Two weeks before the San Diego Chargers can officially begin collecting signatures in hopes of getting its downtown stadium/convention center proposal on the November ballot, the team was set to meet Monday with the proponents of a competing convention center initiative, known as the Citizens’ Plan, which is also vying for a November vote.
The exact nature of Monday’s meeting was not clear, although it is likely the two sides will discuss ways to potentially merge their similar, yet competing plans, instead of placing both on the November ballot, which could lead to a split vote and the denial of both proposals. A successful plan will require, at minimum, a 50%-plus-1 result at the November polls.
Cory Briggs, the local environmental lawyer who authored the Citizens’ Plan initiative last October, said Monday’s meeting was meant to fill a political void in the city. The Chargers’ plan was released March 29, but Mayor Kevin Faulconer has yet to offer a position.
“The reason we’re having to do these discussions is because unfortunately there’s a vacuum of political leadership,” Briggs told the San Diego Union-Tribune last Friday. “They’re not leading the city, so it falls to the principals of the Citizens’ Plan and the Chargers to see if there’s something we can do that’s better for the community than what we are already doing. That doesn’t mean consolidating the initiatives.”
The Citizens’ Plan is similar to the plan the Chargers made public in late March, calling for an increase in San Diego’s hotel tax from 10.5 percent to 15.5 percent to help fund a stadium and convention center. The Briggs plan would bar public funding for a stadium.
The Chargers’ proposal calls for a tax hike to 16.5 percent to pay for $1.15 billion required to finance the $1.8 billion plan, along with $650 million provided by the Chargers and the NFL. Both plans call for a downtown stadium and convention center. The Chargers are proposing a joint facility, including a 65,000-seat stadium, in the East Village section of the city, near Petco Park.
One key difference between the two plans is the Citizens’ Initiative’s inclusion of plans for the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, which is currently the home of the Chargers and is the target of San Diego State University for a “West Campus” expansion and 40,000 seat stadium for the Aztecs and a potential MLS expansion franchise.
Briggs said that the likely focus of Monday’s meeting would be the future of the Mission Valley site, but sources told the U-T that there are no formal limitations on what might come up in the meeting.
Chargers special adviser Fred Maas told the U-T on Friday that the team has already been in “regular dialogue” with Citizens’ Plan supporters.
“We’re not delusional. Having both initiatives on the ballot layers in a whole new level of complexity we’d rather avoid,” Maas said. “We’d hope we can work out some of the objectives they want to accomplish outside the initiative. I would expect that will be the spirit of the meeting Monday.”
The Citizens’ plan is close to having garnered the necessary signatures to qualify for the November ballot, ahead of a late-April deadline. The Chargers may begin collecting signatures on April 23 and need roughly 65,000 by late June in order to qualify for the ballot.